Singapore and Australia ink training area treaty
The Singaporean and Australian defence ministries signed the ‘Treaty on Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia’ on 23 March, finalising a plan to expand the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA) and to develop the new Greenvale Training Area (GVTA) in Queensland, Australia.
Singapore will also extend its rights to train in Australia for another 25 years.
The deal was inked remotely in view of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The treaty is an enhancement of the MoU for ‘Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia’, which was signed in 2016 under the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
The expanded SWBTA and GVTA will be jointly developed by Singapore and Australia and will see construction of combined arms air-land ranges and urban operations live-firing facilities, enabling Singapore air assets to conduct live training in areas with army platforms like artillery, unmanned systems and armoured vehicles.
Currently, urban training in the SWBTA is limited to a small set-up consisting of stacked shipping containers.
The total training area is estimated to be ten times the size of Singapore, or around 7,210km².
Based on Australian DoD documents, Singapore will invest around A$2.25 billion (US$1.3 billion) in the project, and acquisition of land in Greenvale has already been completed.
Once the expanded SWBTA and GVTA are completed by 2024 and 2028 respectively, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be able to train at the brigade level. It will increase its vehicle presence almost fivefold from 500 to 2,400 and the number of personnel from 6,600 to 14,000. Total time on the ground for Singapore also extends from six to 18 weeks.
In early 2019, Australia-Singapore Military Training Initiative officers said the team was seeking military training and simulation systems that have an open architecture to allow integration of future software and hardware.
This year will mark the 30th anniversary of Singapore’s presence at the SWBTA, with the flagship Exercise Wallaby serving as the SAF’s largest military exercise.
It is also expected to see potential deployment of the new Hunter armoured fighting vehicle, as well as holding Exercise Trident, a tri-service ship-to-shore exercise that usually sees the participation of Australian Defence Force personnel.
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